Review: I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

This was a surprisingly strange story.

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Narrated by John Allen Nelson
Released March 2010
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John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there's something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can't control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells' debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

My Thoughts:

This is a weird book but I think I liked it well enough. Let’s see if I can work out a rating by the time I stop writing out my feelings here.

“I think that fate wants me to become a serial killer.”

John Wayne Cleaver is a teen doing his best not to murder the cretins that surround him. I’m not joking about this either. He has serious serial killer in the making vibes. Even his therapist thinks so. His family runs a mortuary and he’s been exposed to death since he was a child but he’s the only one in his family who finds death fascinating. He’s written school essays on serial killers and is obsessed with learning everything about them. But unlike most killers (besides Dexter), he knows murder is wrong and he creates rules for himself that will prevent him from acting out on his urges to slice people up like stir-fry. But people do not make it easy for him. As you all probably know, most people are jerks. Especially when they’re still in high school. John has one friend and that friend was so annoying I might’ve wanted to slice him up a time or two myself.

This kid is detached, he knows it, you know it and it’s hard to feel for him since he doesn’t feel normal emotions. He mimics others in order to be a decent citizen and get by in society. You think you see where this all heading with comments like these, don’t you?

“If you met me on the street you’d never know how much I wanted to kill you.”

But you would be wrong. The book takes a weird and unexpected turn somewhere midway in and it really threw me off. I thought I was reading one thing and then it turned into another thing and I wasn’t sure I liked where it was heading but in the end I guess it worked out because I didn’t quit it. Just go in expecting the unexpected and you might be ok.

With that said, I must steer you away from the audiobook read by John Allen Nelson. Sadly this narrator was not a good fit for my ears. He has a news anchor voice and he’s not afraid to use it and it continually threw me out of the story. He would be much better suited to a true crime or a nonfiction book. He doesn’t do well with a teen’s voice and this book is told by a teen. He also has the funniest, most cartoony old person voice I think I have ever heard outside of the shows my kids used to watch on Nickelodeon. I laughed when I should’ve been a wee bit sad or terrified.

In the end, I guess I’m giving this production and story a three. I wasn’t happy with the way everything was wrapped up so tidily in the end. It seemed too easy and too unbelievable and it infuriated me a little. Many people say this story gets better as the series moves along. I may try another if I stumble on a free copy but I won’t actively seek them out.


  1. What a pity about the narration not being up to scratch. That's why I'm always reluctant to buy audio cds!

  2. Sounds kind of interesting and maybe you would have even liked it better if it had a different narrator. I've always seen books by Dan Wells and think I have one I got in a subscription box. Not that I want to be a killer or anything but hey, people annoy me too so maybe I might like some aspects of this one.

  3. I'm sort of intrigued by this one; I kind of want to know what the weird and unexpected turn this story takes, even though I might end up not liking it at the end.

  4. Don't give up on the series. Kirby Heyborne takes over the narration and does a bang up job. Have you seen the movie?

  5. Oooh as a series it might be better as it goes because the premise is cool. I am kind of curious as to what the unexpected turn is.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

  6. I've heard that element put a lot of people off midway. I haven't read it, though. I'm curious enough to check it out at some point.

  7. I don't listen to audiobooks anyway so if I were to get this it would be to read. It sounds like a book I could like.

  8. This sounds like a book that I would really like but I am going to have to avoid that narrator. The whole teenager trying not to become a serial killer just sounds great!

  9. Does sound interesting. I do find it fascinating how the minds of people work - especially those that turn out to be killers. Usually with young people it's animals first, isn't it? Then they work up to people.


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